The Australian Hydrogen Centre (AHC) has recently been launched at Adelaide’s Tonsley Innovation District to support the development of the resource.
The Centre will be led by Australian Gas Network (AGN) in collaboration with founding members Neoen, AusNet Services and ENGIE, and has secured $1.28 million from ARENA, $120,000 from the South Australian Government and $500,000 from the Victorian Government.
The AHC will undertake feasibility studies into blending 10 per cent and 100 per cent hydrogen into city and regional gas networks in South Australia and Victoria as a key step towards the greater use of hydrogen in gas distribution networks.
In addition, the AHC will publish knowledge sharing reports to externalise key insights and data from the operations of AGN’s flagship project, Hydrogen Park South Australia (HyP SA).
South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, said the co-investment from the Federal and Victorian Governments, as well as AGN and its partners, showed commendable leadership.
“The Australian Hydrogen Centre’s ambitious research will explore the pathways required to decarbonise the South Australian and Victorian gas distribution networks by identifying methods to scale up renewable hydrogen production and consumption,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.
“Considering South Australia’s enormous wind and solar resources, we have significant natural advantages that can be leveraged to produce, consume and export 100 per cent green hydrogen,“ Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.
“This project builds on the South Australian Government’s $4.9 million investment in Hydrogen Park SA that will see hydrogen blended with natural gas and delivered to 710 homes in the local community.”
The hydrogen will be produced onsite, using renewable electricity to split water (H2O) into hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis.
Mr van Holst Pellekaan said the hydrogen will be blended with natural gas and supplied to nearby homes and businesses via the existing gas network, with potential also to supply 100 per cent hydrogen to industrial users via tube trailers (long storage tubes on the back of semi-trailers).
“A five per cent hydrogen blend is the first important step to reducing gas related emissions, and will help accelerate renewable hydrogen into the South Australian economy,” said Mr van Holst Pellekaan.
“The aim of the funding is to support large scale deployments of renewable hydrogen projects and bring costs down to help to make the technology commercially viable.
“The development of new energy technologies is at a tipping point, and renewable hydrogen will soon provide a much needed carbon-free fuel for our domestic and export markets.
“Producing a clean burning gas like renewable hydrogen supports South Australia’s intention to be net-zero emissions from electricity generation by 2030’s and net-zero emissions across the state by 2050,” said Mr van Holst Pellekaan.
The South Australian Government’s support for the Centre forms part of South Australia’s Hydrogen Action Plan, released in September 2019.
ARENA CEO, Darren Miller, said the natural gas network could be a key piece of infrastructure to support decarbonisation of the national energy system.
“The network has the potential to be used for the long-term storage of renewably produced hydrogen and limit the need for electrification alternatives, which can be costly.
“The development of a local hydrogen sector will underpin the investment in technology and skills to support the long term export opportunity. These studies will go a long way to identifying the possibility of using and storing hydrogen in local gas networks.”
“AGN, as part of Australia’s broader energy industry, has commenced the new decade with a strategy that aims to deliver substantial, measurable and world-leading outcomes in minimising the current and future carbon footprint across the whole of our national gas distribution business.
“This public licence also requires total transparency so the studies will provide guidance as to both the best solution to deliver renewable gas into our networks while ensuring full engagement with all stakeholders and consumers about this step-change in Australian energy delivery.
“The 2020s will be an exciting time for the energy industry and consumers. ARENA’s foresight in backing the strategy for a roll-out of more renewably sourced gas in these two key major markets, is to be commended.”
Energy Networks Australia CEO, Andrew Dillon, said the broad support of the AHC reinforced the role of energy networks in enabling a sustainable energy future.
“Hydrogen will play an important role in the energy transition as we adopt new technologies such as renewable generation to reduce emissions from the energy sector,” Mr Dillon said.
“The AHC will deliver a practical pathway for blending hydrogen into networks and will directly contribute to the delivery of the National Hydrogen Strategy.
“Flexible hydrogen production creates additional value streams for excess renewable electricity and can also be used to manage peak demand.
“Establishing a strong, domestic hydrogen industry will drive the development of Australia’s hydrogen export industry.
“Hydrogen technology is already being embraced around the world for domestic and commercial use in gas networks and to fuel passenger and freight trains.”